Types of Performance Appraisals

by Ralph Heibutzki

A performance review is a manager's opportunity to see how well -- or poorly -- an employee is meeting predetermined expectations for his performance. However, the traditional one-way supervisor-worker exchange isn't the only technique now used to convey this. Companies have experimented with approaches that recognize multiple viewpoints, as well as processes that require the worker to define his own progress. Regardless of the method used, the objective is to make employees stakeholders in their own growth and development.

Top-Down Evaluation

For most companies, the top-down method remains the evaluation tool of choice, since it requires a one-on-one discussion of performance goals. Proponents of this approach view it as the most efficient and direct appraisal method. According to "Inc." magazine, a higher-ranking executive, manager or supervisor normally does the evaluation. At larger organizations, supervisors complete the relevant paperwork for follow-up by the human resources department.

Peer Review

Companies looking for fresh evaluation methods have embraced the peer review process. Peer reviews, as the term implies, require co-workers to comment about each others' performance. According to "Inc." magazine, one rationale for using this method is that workers have the best insights into a company's inner workings. The disadvantage is that staff members competing for pay and promotions might also review each other more critically.

Probationary Review

Probationary reviews are intended to gauge progress after an automatic time period, usually after 90 days. The supervisor reviews the employee's record, and gives feedback about the required improvements. Probationary reviews are also used in procedural matters, such as the reinstatement of an employee who's been subjected to suspension, or other discipline. Continued employment depends on complying with the specific goals outlined in the document.


If your company relies on self-evaluations, expect to complete a form, or write up a brief summary of your progress. The resulting document becomes a springboard for discussing whether you need additional help to grow, and which aspects of your abilities are most likely to benefit. This approach relies on total honesty, which can create problems if you and your employer can't agree on basic details.

360-Degree Evaluation

In a 360-degree evaluation, your performance is evaluated within all sides of the organization. Co-workers, managers and even customers can comment about your work's quality, which your supervisor reviews at a follow-up meeting. The multiple viewpoints show how your peers actually see you, and provide specific reference points for improvement, according to a University of Missouri Extension analysis. Filtering out negative or vindictive comments is the biggest challenge for your employer, since all feedback is anonymous.

About the Author

Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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